Another anti-obesity warning: more death risk

Teenage girls who are obese run a three-fold greater risk of premature death in middle age, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Forbes reports.

A study of 102,400 female nurses showed that women who were overweight or obese when 18 drank more alcohol, smoked more and were less likely to exercise as teens - and were also more likely to die between the ages of 36 and 56.

But another report, also in the July 18 issue of the journal, found that the diet drug sibutramine -brand-named Meridia - along with behavior therapy, helps very obese adolescents lose weight. That study was funded by the makers of Meridia, Abbott Laboratories, Inc, according to Health day News.

As with any medication, cautioned Dr. Berkowitz, patients considering the use of sibutramine would need to consult with their physicians. Patients who take sibutramine require regular monitoring of pulse and blood pressure, and interactions with other specific medications may indicate that sibutramine should not be prescribed. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not currently approve using sibutramine in adolescents under age 16, South Asian Women's Forum reports.

Because this study covered only one year of treatment, added Dr. Berkowitz, further investigation should analyze long-term weight management and health outcomes for adolescents with obesity. Other studies should focus on possible long-term risks of medication versus risks of continued weight gain. He concluded, “Although much research remains to be done, our findings are encouraging for clinicians, and may offer treatment options for obese adolescents for whom behavioral therapies alone are not successful.”